This week, the All Boards Chairs (ABC) committee held a special meeting to discuss shared services. They considered their two choices: a shared services agreement between all seven Boards of Education or rewriting the policies of each Board. They immediately went off on a tangent to discuss the governance as specified by one of the enabling acts of Region 1. They then reached a tenuous consensus to have Region attorney Gary Brochu review changes to the policies (7000 series) while recommending whether they should have an agreement or policies. The bulk of the discussion centered on power; Region 1 Chairman Andrea Downs wanted to keep control of the central office budget and its employees other than the Superintendent of Schools.
Carl Gross, Director of Pupil Services
Special Education of students is a very difficult process to manage. Every Board of Education feels inadequate to the task because of their limited knowledge on the subject. In Region 1, with seven schools, the Region 1 Board of Education always lacks enough information to reach an optimal solution. Is the special education process of identification stable? Is the number of special education students too high or too low? Is the cost commensurate with the task? Is the increase in cost sustainable? How does outplacement of students affect cost? Does the percentage of special education students in Housatonic Valley Regional High School increase after 30% of the middle school students leave for private school? How much does the legal process weigh into special education decisions? Most important, how does a Board of Education set metrics to prevent unnecessary cost while maintaining necessary help?
The Development of Science Standards in Connecticut: A presentation
An interesting discussion broke out at the Kent Board of Education meeting this week. The Board has been working on a new policy on public comment and participation. They have gone through many revisions of the policy, nitpicking at the ambiguous meanings of the English language along the way. Now, near the end, two Board members complained that overall tone of the policy was not welcoming to the public. In rebuttal, Chairman Paul Cortese said that some form of policy was necessary in order to comply with the Freedom of Information restrictions. They rearranged the sections and will continue discussions next month.
After the district meeting leading to the referendum, the Region 1 Board of Education met for a lengthy regular meeting. They heard a presentation on changes to the Science curriculum being undertaken by the State Department of Education. Superintendent of Schools Patricia Chamberlain reported that the legislature may add flexibility to the law regarding the minimum budget requirement. Board Member Jonathan Moore reported that the Building and Grounds Committee will be coming forward with five projects for maintenance and renovation of the high school totaling $5,100,000. A solar panel group presented an appealing option; the Board approved a more detailed look by Business Manager Sam Herrick. And they took care of business details in the central office.
With about 6% of the eligible voters casting ballots in Region 1, the budget passed by a vote of 400-203. The success of this vote is directly proportional to the time that the Region 1 Board spent on the high school and special education. Housatonic Valley Regional High School is now the best funded school in the State of Connecticut.
This week, the All Boards Chairs (ABC) committee met for its regular meeting. They reviewed the reapproval of the joint agreement on the employment of the Superintendent of Schools. Except for Falls Village, all the Boards of Education approved the updated agreement. Then the committee encircled the difficult issue of regionalization and put off discussion. They heard from representatives of the Jane Lloyd Fund who would like help getting referrals. (That fund provides financial and psychological support for people with cancer.) The committee embarked on the evaluation of the Superintendent on the same schedule as last year, culminating near the end of the school year in May. And they restarted the discussion on the remainder of the 7000 series of policies, deciding on a special meeting just for that purpose.
Region 1 Assistant Superintendent Pam Vogel
The Region 1 Board of Education and the All Board Chairs Committee (the Search Committee) are very pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Pamela Kay Vogel as the new Assistant Superintendent of the Regional School District #1. Dr. Vogel comes to our region from an impressive career at all levels of public education in Iowa. Pam began her career as a teacher of students with special needs. She has many years of experience as Director of Curriculum/Instruction, and has also served as principal of a middle school. She supervised leadership development for the Heartland Area Education Agency (an Iowa equivalent of Education Connection), and has served for the past seven years as Superintendent of Schools of the East Union Community School District, enrollment 600. For the past five years, Dr. Vogel has also served as a University Instructor in Iowa State University’s Superintendent Licensure program.
Dolores Perotti, North Canaan Board of Education Chair
Ned Gow, North Canaan Region One Board Representative
The March 26 editorial in The Lakeville Journal questioned the decision of the ABC Committee and seven Region One Boards of Education to focus first on the written agreement for Joint Employment of the Superintendent rather than targeting the 7000 Series of policies.
On Wednesday evening, the Region 1 Board of Education held a public hearing on the regional budget for the 2015-2016 school year. Chairman Andrea Downs presented the budgets for Housatonic Valley Regional High School, Pupil Services, and the Regional School Services Center (RSSC). Following the almost silent hearing, the Board passed the budget to a regional vote with the expectation of a referendum on Tuesday, May 5, 2015.
On Tuesday evening, The Kent Board of Finance met to consider the budget for the 2015-2016 fiscal year. Chairman Nancy O’Dea-Wyrick addressed the shortfall of about $900,000 needed to keep the mill rate constant. Further, she noted that the savings in the general reserve had been used up in previous years and was no longer available to defray these costs.